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After the volcano’s eruption in January 2020, there was a significant decrease in the population of lake fish and invertebrates which are important sources of food and livelihood for the coastal fishing communities of Lake Taal.

The study titled, NRCP Taal PEER with two component projects namely: Project 1. Elucidating the stability of Lake Taal’s post-eruption littoral food web through the dietary habits of goby assemblages and macrobenthos community structure led by Dr. Jonathan Carlo Ampo Briones, and Project 2. Zooplanktivory in the endemic Sardinella tawilis (Herre, 1927) and its relationship with limnetic zooplankton dynamics in Lake Taal was led by Dr. Rey Donne Papa, both NRCP members. Taal PEER generally aims to evaluate the potential vulnerability of Lake Taal’s open-water fisheries by assessing the lake’s coastal and open-water food webs.

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Dr. Rey Donne Papa, NRCP Taal PEER Component Project 1 Leader. Photo courtesy: SINTA-AL.

 Specifically, the TAAL PEER program intends to monitor the water quality and nutrient levels of Lake Taal's limnetic and littoral areas, assess the population stability of two important catch fisheries targets, namely Tawilis (Sardinella tawilis) widely known as sardine and Biya (Glossogobius spp.) or the Philippines smallest fish. It also seeks to determine the community structure of primary consumers that may serve as an important dietary source for Tawilis and Biya fish communities, and to  look into the trophic interactions of all elements to provide sound policy recommendations for both  littoral and limnetic areas of post-eruption Lake Taal.

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Fisherfolks of Lake Taal harvest Sardinella tawilis. Photo courtesy: SINTA-AL.

Component Project 1 will provide policy recommendations to the Protected Area Superintendent (PASu) and Local Government Units (LGU) of Taal Volcano Protected Landscape for the conservation and rehabilitation of selected coastal and stream sites in Lake Taal. According to Briones, these will serve as “remediation” stations of biodiversity that will sustain coastal fisheries of Biya for fisherfolk in the future, while the lake is slowly returning to pre-eruption status.

Meanwhile, Component Project 2 will provide policy recommendations to Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and LGU for long-term monitoring protocols of water quality parameters in Lake Taal, together with suggestions on tawilis conservation. According to Papa, these will ensure that communities have sustainable practices of tawilis catch fisheries, taking into consideration the long period of Lake Taal’s return to pre-eruption levels.

NRCP Taal PEER program is expected to end on March 31, 2023. / Jenny Leigh A. Daquioag, DOST-NRCP

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